November 18, 2017

Treasury and Commerce Departments Issued New Sanctions Against Cuba

 

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On June 16, 2017, President Donald Trump signed his Cuba policy directive on new sanctions against the communist regime at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami. However, it took several months for the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and State and the White House National Security Council to implement the Cuban sanctions based upon the policy directive of the president. During this delay the Obama administration shameful Cuban policy of unilateral concessions without a Quid Pro Quo or nothing in return continued to be in effect.

The new sanctions on the mass-murdering Cuban regime took effect on November 9, 2017. However, the sanctions were weakened by bureaucrats in the federal government. Cuban Americans in Congress from Florida as well as this writer and many President Trump supporters were disappointed.

On November 9, 2017, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security implemented the Cuban sanctions announced by President Donald Trump on June 16, 2017. The Treasury, Commerce, and State Departments stated that the rules are aimed at prohibiting American tourists and U.S. businesses to engage with the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services. The intent of the regulations is to promote business to the Cuban private sector. The United States will prohibit Americans from doing business with dozens of Cuban government-run hotels, shops, tour groups, and other entities identified by the State Department.

On November 9, 2017, Patricia Mazzei, Nora Gámez Torres, and Mimi Whitefield wrote an article titled “Policy on Cuba Restricts Travel, Partners” which was published in the Miami Herald. The reporters explained that under the new regulations Americans will be prohibited from doing business with 180 businesses connected to the Cuban military and intelligence and security services. These corporations include “83 hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, industries and even two rum makers owned by the government. U.S. companies will be barred from investing in a sprawling economic development zone in Mariel that Cuba envisions as crucial to its commercial future.”

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement, “We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people.”

President Trump announces toughening of Cuba policy in Miami 5:47

The objectives of the new regulations are to cut off funds to Raúl Castro’s oppressive regime and tighten U.S. travel to the communist island. However, Florida Republicans in Congress were very critical of the new regulations, stating that they did not go far enough in punishing the Cuban government.

Mazzei, Gámez Torres, and Whitefield wrote the following: “The Treasury, Commerce and State departments, together with the National Security Council, worked for months on the regulations, which took longer than some members of Congress and U.S.-Cuba policy experts expected. Sanctions against other countries, most notably North Korea, took priority for the administration, which continues to be understaffed in State and other agencies. The White House also had to deal with the ongoing mystery over an alleged sonic attack against U.S. diplomats in Havana. While Washington has not accused the Cuban government of causing the attacks, it holds Havana responsible for not protecting American diplomats while on Cuban soil and has reduced the U.S. Embassy staff by 60 percent. But an administration official said at a morning briefing that the regulations had nothing to do with the acoustic incidents.”

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Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from South Florida said in a statement the following: “Today’s announced regulations include some positive first steps. I am disappointed, however, that the regulations do not fully implement what the President ordered. It is clear that individuals within the bureaucracy who support the former administration’s Cuba policy continue to undermine President Trump.”

Similar to Congressman Diaz-Balart, Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida blamed federal bureaucrats for writing softer regulations than the ones President Trump called for. Representative Diaz-Balart and Senator Rubio “have fretted for months that career civil servants — particularly in State — favor former President Barack Obama’s Cuba opening and have pushed back against the more hardline policy endorsed by Trump,” wrote the Miami Herald reporters.

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Republican Senator Marco Rubio

Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida pointed out that the new regulations restricting U.S. business and travel to Cuba do not go as far as President Donald Trump intended. Regarding the regulations, Senator Rubio stated the following: “The regulatory changes announced today by Treasury and Commerce begin to implement President Trump’s June 2017 policy for enforcing U.S. sanctions laws against the Castro regime. Unfortunately, however, bureaucrats in the State Department who oppose the President’s Cuba policy refused to fully implement it when they omitted from the Cuba Restricted List several entities and sub-entities that are controlled by or act on behalf of the Cuban military, intelligence or security services. I remain confident that this effort by some in the State Department to undermine the President’s directive will be addressed.”

Patricia Mazzei pointed out that Senator Rubio asked for the addition of Gran Caribe and Cubanacan, which are owned by the Cuban tourism ministry and not the military. The reporter explained that “Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz is an army colonel — a link Rubio signaled should be enough to land the two holding companies on the U.S. restricted list.”

The delay in issuing the regulations allowed U.S. companies to finalize business deals with the Cuban regime and travel agencies to book rooms in military-owned hotels in 2017 and beyond

Mazzei, Gámez Torres, and Whitefield said that the delay in issuing the sanctions permitted American companies such as Caterpillar to finalize business deals with Cuba that will be unaffected by the new restrictions. The Caterpillar agreement allows the multinational to build up a warehouse and distribution operation at the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone. Another business, Deere & Co., also completed a deal last week to sell John Deere tractors to the Cuban government for use by agricultural cooperatives. This writer does not understand how the Trump administration approved these two business deals with Cuba. It seems to this writer that these two deals with the Cuban regime violate the United States economic embargo under the Helms Burton law.

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                                                   The Port of Mariel was built by the Brazilian multinational Odebrecht Company in 2014.

The modern Port of Mariel was built by the very corrupt Brazilian Odebrecht Company with funding from radical President Dilma Rousseff’s government. Rousseff was impeached and fired as president of Brazil for corruption and former Marxist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is being investigated for corruption. Odebrecht owners are in jail in Brazil for bribing officials in Brazil and many nations in Latin America.

On January 27, 2014, the port of Mariel was completed. Present at the inauguration were the assassin-in-series dictator Raúl Castro, Venezuelan bloody dictator Nicolás Maduro, and radical Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The port of Mariel has more than a dozen big cranes, a 700-meter-long pier which can handle the world’s biggest container ships, a highway, and a rail line to Havana. The port of Mariel was financed by Brazil’s state development bank in a deal negotiated directly between dictator Raúl Castro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former radical Brazilian president. The port of Mariel includes a 180-square-mile foreign trade zone.

Recording sheds light on Cuba sonic attacks targeting US workers 1:56

The reporters explained that the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone will be among the 180 entities restricted by the U.S. — as will Almacenes Universales and Terminal de Contenedores de Mariel, S.A., two companies that run the seaport’s container terminal. The new regulations will exempt business with Cuban airports and seaports, allowing permissible trade to continue and airlines and cruise lines to operate as they do now. Most travel arranged prior to the publication of the regulations will also be allowed.

Augusto Maxwell, an Akerman attorney whose clients include companies that are doing business with Cuba and was probably in favor of Obama Cuban policy, stated the following: “The Trump administration has edited, not undone, the Obama opening. The regulations are nowhere as severe as some people had feared.” Maxwell added that “Companies can still apply for specific licenses to do business with Cuban entities on the prohibited list but they would have to demonstrate how a deal would clearly benefit the Cuban people vs. benefiting the Cuban military.” Another Miami lawyer whose clients include cruise lines, Pedro Freyre, said, “This is a step back, a step sideways but the core of the relationship is still there.”

The new sanctions will end some of the Obama administration provisions and take specific action to prohibit doing business with the enterprises run by Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A., or GAESA. This military-run business conglomerate is owned by the Revolutionary Armed Forces and controls more than 50 enterprises.

Reporter Gámez Torres stated the following: “If you’re a U.S. traveler in Cuba and you buy a bottle of water in the supermarket or a souvenir in a store, or you rent a car or a hotel room, it’s very likely that you’re putting money into the pockets of the military-run GAESA, which experts say controls nearly 60% (others estimate 80%) of the Cuban economy. GAESA operates in virtually every profitable area of the Cuban economy, controlling hotel chains, car rental agencies and sales companies, banks, credit card and remittance services, supermarkets, clothing shops, real estate development companies, gasoline stations, import and export companies, shipping and construction companies, warehouses and even an airline.”

The reporter pointed out that GAESA is the owner of the Gaviota hotel chain, which owns nearly 29,000 rooms in Cuba and serves an estimated 40% of the entire nation’s foreign tourism. Gaviota has signed management contracts for 83% of its rooms with international hotel chains, including Spain’s Meliá and the Swiss-based Kempinski.

The immense power of General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López Calleja

Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, yerno de Raúl Castro (Foto: Bloomberg)

General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López Calleja is or was Cuban bloody dictator Raúl Castro’s son-in-law. Half or more of Cuba’s business activity is run through General Rodríguez López Calleja.

Michael Smith wrote an article titled “Want to Do Business in Cuba? Prepare to Partner with the General” which was published in the website SmithMarkets on September 30, 2015. The article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Bloomberg Markets under the named “Cuba: The Price of Doing Business in a New Economy.”

Smith explained that in order to do most businesses in Cuba, investors must see General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López Calleja, who is or was Raúl Castro’s son-in-law. Smith visited Cuba and said that he saw Havana’s redevelopment in progress. Near El Floridita, where Ernest Hemingway once knocked back daiquiris, the hulking Manzana de Gómez building is being transformed into a five-star hotel.

The hotel is now completed. It is owned by Gaviota, the tourist corporation that belongs to the military and is run by the Swiss luxury hotel chain Kempinski. This is how foreign corporations must do business in communist Cuba. Under the new sanctions Americans are prohibited staying in this hotel since it is owned by the military.

HOTEL GROUNDS

                                                                The five-star hotel Gran Manzana de Gómez is owned by Gaviota.

This luxury hotel has on the first floor stylish boutiques that sell perfume, stereos, and Montblanc, Versace, and Armani goods. These stores are owned by CIMEX, a Cuban business conglomerate taken over by GAESA in 2010. CIMEX, founded by the Ministry of the Interior, includes financial services, a chain of shops, and import and export agencies. Americans will not be able to stay at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Havana’s new five-star hotel managed by Kempinski under a contract with Gaviota. Americans will not be able or shop at its ground-floor luxury arcade, but they will still be able to stay at private accommodations, as well as the many hotels operated by other Cuban tourism companies, such as Cubanacan and Gran Caribe throughout the island.

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Brisas Trinidad del Mar in Trinidad is one of 28 hotels run by Cubanacan. Senator Rubio is correct when he said all the hotels run by Cubanacan and Gran Caribe should have been included in the ban since all of them belong to the oppressive regime. Gran Caribe is Cuba’s foremost hotel group operating many 4 and 5 star hotels across Cuba. The hotels owned by Gran Caribe are located in Cuba’s most important destinations and range from landmark properties such as the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and the historic Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, to our hotels on beautifully stretched beaches in Varadero and on the keys overlooking crystal clear waters.

Cuba today is a state capitalist run by the military Mafia element deeply embedded within communist Cuba. Obama’s shameful unilateral concessions to the oppressive communist regime and in violation of the Helms-Burton Law allowed American hotel chains to run hotels owned by the military and all of them are grandfather by the new sanctions.

Smith stated the following: “General Rodriguez has worked directly for Raúl Castro. He’s the gatekeeper for most foreign investors, requiring them to do business with his organization if they wish to set up shop on the island… General Rodriguez doesn’t just count Castro as a longtime boss. He is family. More than 20 years ago, Rodriguez, a stocky, square-jawed son of a general, married Deborah Castro, Raúl’s daughter. In the past five years, Castro has vastly increased the size of Rodriguez’s business empire, making him one of the most powerful men in Cuba. General Rodriguez’s life is veiled in secrecy. He’s rarely been photographed or quoted in the media, and his age isn’t publicly known.”

Smith pointed out that the Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has been slowly and cautiously opening the island to private enterprise since he assumed control of the country in 2006. There are now 201 types of private businesses permitted (restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts are the biggest categories), employing a million people or a fifth of the Cuban workforce.

The military dictatorship that runs Cuba imposes high taxes on all these small private businesses. These businesses can be closed at any time by the communist regime. Often, police and military show up at the private restaurants called “paladares” and eat for free. Dictator Raúl Castro has legalized the sale of homes and cars, allowed more travel to certain individuals and denied travel to others, and allowed private farming and cooperative businesses. It is estimated that Cubans own 2.6 million cell phones, although service is poor and expensive.

However, Smith pointed out that the Castro regime has kept the big-money industries in the hands of the state. Much of these industries are managed by his son-in-law. General Rodríguez’s Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A. or GAESA runs companies that account for more than half the business revenue produced in Cuba. Other economists say it may be closer to 80%, according to Smith.

Smith said that GAESA owns almost all of the retail chains in Cuba and 57 of the mainly foreign-run hotels from Havana to the country’s finest Caribbean beaches. GAESA has restaurant and gasoline station chains, rental car fleets, and companies that import everything from cooking oil to telephone equipment. General Rodríguez is also in charge of Cuba’s most important base for global trade and foreign investment, which is the new container ship terminal and 180-square-mile foreign trade zone in Mariel.

Smith pointed out that for the majority of people in Cuba dictator Raúl Castro’s reforms have not delivered the most basic thing, which is a living wage. Salaries average just 584 pesos or about $24 a month. That is, what it costs to buy 4.4 pounds of chicken breasts, a couple bags of rice and beans, and four rolls of toilet paper in one of GAESA’s Panamericana supermarkets.

During his visit to Cuba Smith learned that most of the people have “to scrape and hustle to put together a decent living.” Nearly everyone Smith met in Havana has a story of moonlighting in odd jobs and even stealing to make up for dismal pay. He pointed out that a friend of his father sells Cohiba cigars stolen from the factory where he works. A young engineer drives tourists around in his mother’s Lada, a Russian car, to supplement his $19.59 monthly salary as a university professor.

Smith said that Cuba’s most profitable state companies under GAESA are run by General Luis Alberto Rodríguez. The biggest addition to GAESA was Cimex, which had been run for three decades by military commanders chosen by Fidel Castro. Adding the Cimex companies more than doubled the size of GAESA. More recently, General Rodríguez took over Habaguanex, the state company that owns the best commercial real estate in Old Havana, including 37 restaurants and 21 hotels.

Sadly, many multinational corporations from the United States and other nations want to make Cuba the China of the Caribbean. These corporations would like to use Cuban workers, who make between $20 and $25 a month salary and have no rights whatsoever. These multinational corporations do not care about the suffering of the Cuban people under the worst and longest dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

The State Department that is full of globalists anti-Trump officials will be charged with keeping the “list of restricted entities and subentities associated with Cuba” updated. Companies not listed among the 180 entities will not be restricted, even if they have military ties. Enforcing these sanctions will be very difficult but assigning the monitoring to the Department of State officials, who most of them belonged to the Council of Foreign Relations, is absurd since most of them approved Obama Cuban policy!

In this June 28, 2016 file photo, a vintage car passes in front of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Havana, Cuba, managed vy the U.S.-based Starwood hotel chain and owned by Gaviota, part of the military conglomerate known as GAESA.

The Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Havana is owned by the military-run Gaviota and is managed by the U.S. Corporation Starwood hotel chain. Gaviota is part of the military conglomerate GAESA. Obama violated the Helms-Burton Law and the Cuban embargo by authorizing hotel chains to do business with the Cuban military. The new regulations will respect previous deals, thus Americans may continue to stay at this hotel.

The State Department that is full of globalists anti-Trump officials will be charged with keeping the “list of restricted entities and subentities associated with Cuba” updated. Companies not listed among the 180 entities will not be restricted, even if they have military ties.

Mazzei, Gámez Torres and Whitefield stated the following: “How closely the government will enforce the new rules remains unclear. No additional enforcement resources are being added to Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which under Obama relied on an honor system when it came to policing U.S.-Cuba travel. Senior administration officials said Wednesday travelers would be required to retain records of their itineraries and expenses, which will be subject to review.”

The reporters summarized the new sanctions against the Cuban regime as follows:

1. Prohibits most U.S. business dealings with Cuban military enterprises.

2. Makes exceptions for business with Cuban airports and seaports. Airlines and cruise lines will continue to operate as they do now.

3. Lists 180 companies with ties to the Cuban military and intelligence and security services that are off limits for Americans.

4. Imposes new restrictions on Americans who fall into three categories of admissible travel to the island.

5. Emphasizes that travelers must retain records of all transactions they make in Cuba for five years.

6. Retains current policies on family travel.

7. Prohibits U.S. travelers from staying at hotels run by the Cuban military.

8. Greatly expands a list of prohibited officials who are not eligible to receive remittances and gift parcels sent from the United States.

The list of 180 entities may expand and sanctions may be strengthen

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White House Deputy to the President and Director of Policy and Interagency Coordination Dr. Carlos Díaz-Rosillo, this writer, and President of the Cuban Patriotic Council Antonio Esquivel at the Cuban Diaspora Museum in Miami

 

On November 10, 2017, White House Deputy to the President and Director of Policy and Interagency Coordination Carlos Díaz-Rosillo spoke on the United States and Cuba relations at the invitation of the Cuban Studies Program. The event was held at the Cuban Diaspora Museum in Miami, Florida.

This writer and others at the meeting told Dr. Díaz-Rosillo, who has an important position in the White House, that we thought the new sanctions needed to be strengthened. He said the list of the 180 entities was a living document and could expand. This writer pointed out that the many hotels though out the island run by the Ministry of Tourism under the names of Cubanacan and Gran Caribe should have been included in the ban since all of them bring millions to the oppressive regime.

This writer said that Cuba should be added to the list of terrorist countries and the list of countries that are engaged in human trafficking. Additionally, he told Dr. Díaz-Rosillo that allowing cruise and airlines lines to bring tens of thousands of American tourists to Cuba that would be transported by regime buses, taken to regime restaurants, stores, night clubs, monuments, and museums contradict the objectives of the new regulations. It would also contradict the Department of State warning that Americans should not travel to Cuba.

This writer thanked Dr. Díaz-Rosillo for coming to Miami to talk to us and to hear our concerns. He is very pleased that such a brilliant individual as Dr. Díaz-Rosillo, who is very familiar with Venezuela where he lived as a child and who grew up in Miami with a Cuban-born mother, is advising the president on the U.S. policy with Venezuela and Cuba.

As indicated earlier, the new regulations were prepared by the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and State and the White House National Security Council. This writer is optimistic that President Donald Trump is committed to a free and democratic Cuba may want to increase the sanctions against Cuba when he hears the input by Cuban Americans in Congress and in the United States.

The United States is still investigating the sonic and ultrasonic attacks against American diplomats and their families in Havana. If the conclusion of this lengthy investigation reveals that the Cuban regime was involved or tolerated such attacks, this writer is certain that President Trump will break diplomatic relations with Cuba and hopefully initiate a regime change strategy to end the longest and mass-murdering tyrannical regime in the Western Hemisphere.

Conclusion

Cuban American patriots who worked very hard to elect Donald J. Trump as president hope that he will strengthen the sanctions just announced since they are weak. American tourists will be able to stay in many hotels which will bring income to the brutal regime. Approximately 60% of Cuban Americans voted for Donald Trump on November 8, 2016.

The sanctions should have been much stronger, especially after the president said that Cuba was responsible for injuring American diplomats and members of their families with sonic attacks. The State Department also warned Americans not to travel to Cuba. It does not make any sense to allow Americans to stay in many hotels run by the regime tourist department and allow cruise lines and airlines to bring thousands of American tourists to the island to enrich the military Mafia in Cuba.

Cuban Americans approved Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s promises that he would reverse Obama’s Cuban policy. They hoped that the president would reverse, if not all, almost all of the shameful unilateral concessions done by Obama to the Cuban regime in exchange for nothing, except increase repression, beatings, and arbitrary arrest of peaceful opponents.

Upholding the Helms- Burton Law is crucial. Restating the important parts of the Helms- Burton Law was necessary and President Trump did it in his speech in Miami in June. The president stated the following: “We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”

President Trump spoke how Cuba sent illegal weapons to North Korea and helps the regime in Venezuela to oppress its people. Yet, the president did not state that he wants to place Cuba back in the list of terrorist-supporting nations. Nor did the president say that he wants to put Cuba back in the list of nations that participate in human trafficking. It is very important that President Trump takes these two actions very soon.

President Trump’s new Cuban policy allows United States airlines and cruise lines to continue providing service to the island. With the restrictions on travel, it is likely that the numbers of Americans visiting Cuba will diminish, thus reducing the cash flow to the Cuban military. However, the Treasury and State Departments must strictly enforce the new travel restrictions to the full extent of the law. Otherwise, American tourists will continue to stay in military-owned hotels, using military-owned taxis, buy in military owned stores, and eating and drinking in military-owned restaurants and nightclubs.

Cuba has never paid back any ill-advised nation or corporation which sold products on credit to the military in island. Perhaps, the majority of Americans do not understand that the Export and Import Bank pays in cash when American corporations sell products on credit to nations that have no credit and never pay back what they received. American taxpayers are swindled in each of these transactions.

This practice must be stopped. The Export and Import Bank needs to be abolished as it is welfare for rich corporations. The Cuban corporations controlled by the military never pay back what they purchase. If American farmers want to sell their products in Cuba, let the military pay in cash for what they buy.

The new Cuban policy has the goal of weakening the military dictatorship by denying it easy access to dollars through the military-owned tourist industry and by restricting travel. However, none of these announced measures will overthrow the Cuban communist regime, which is the longest and harshest military dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

Cuba can still buy what it needs from other nations and receive their tourists in military-controlled businesses. It is important that all Western nations condemn the rogue and illegitimate Cuban regime as they did with South Africa during apartheid. Sadly, instead of implementing economic sanctions in Cuba, Western nations have continued to do business as usual with the military dictatorship for many years.

Venezuela and Cuba are strong allies and both nations assist Islamic terror groups. There is a Hamas office in Havana. Cuba has always been a center of terrorism. Similar to Venezuela, the Cuban military participate in drug trafficking. Cuba has an occupation Army in Venezuela assisted by its intelligence services. Venezuela sends financial help to Iran’s militia Hezbollah.

Venezuela sends uranium to Iran, a close ally. The fates of their communist regimes are interrelated. Venezuela and Cuba are a national security threats to the United States and both are close allies of Russia and China.

President Trump needs to sanction economically the high officials in the regime and high ranking military officers of both nations. It was very positive that the Trump administration sanctioned 10 more Venezuelan regime leaders on November 9, 2017. The number of chavistas sanctioned is now 40. Cuban regime officials also need to been added to the black list of oppressors and punished.

Frequently, these oppressors come to the United States to invest in property with the stolen funds from their nations. Freezing their assets of the high-ranking oppressors in the United States is an effective way to punish those who abuse their fellow citizens.

If President Trump wants to implement regime change in communist Venezuela and Cuba, he needs to implement an economic embargo in Venezuela and stop purchasing petroleum from that terror narco nation. The communist regime in Venezuela could not survive a total economic embargo from the United States. If democracy were to be restored in Venezuela, that nation would cease supplying free oil to communist Cuba. The Cuban regime would also collapse in a short time.

This writer realizes that those drastic steps are very difficult to implement by the Trump administration. International bankers, other nations, and the globalist elite of the New World Order would oppose such a policy labeling it as inhumane. It is inhumane for Western nations to remain silent to all the killings, beatings, arrests, and to conduct business as usual with these two unrepented bloody regimes.

If such a courageous regime change policy were implemented successfully by President Donald Trump, he would go down in history as the Liberator of two savage and bloody communist regimes that have brought much suffering to their people and other nations throughout the world. Mr. President Make the Americas Great and Save Again!

 

Frank de Varona is an educator, historian, journalist, and internationally known expert on politics, economics, foreign affairs, and national security issues. He was an Associate Professor in the Frank de Varona SCCurriculum and Instruction Department, College of Education, at Florida International University (FIU) from 1997 to 2004. During his seven years at FIU, he taught many graduate and undergraduate courses and supervised social studies student teachers in secondary schools. Mr. de Varona was born in Cuba. At the age of 17, he participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion in an effort to eradicate communism in Cuba. After the defeat, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison and served two years.  When Mr. de Varona returned to the United States, he continued his education and received a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. He earned a Master’s degree in social studies at the University of Miami and a Specialist in Education degree in educational administration and supervision at the University of Florida. He completed additional graduate work at the University of Florida, FIU, and Boston University.  He worked at the U.S. State Department as interpreter, the U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander appointed Mr. de Varona to the U.S. Department of Education National Council on Educational Statistics Advisory Committee under the administration of George H.W. Bush. In the Miami-Dade County Public Schools he had a 36-year distinguished career.  He has written 20 books and published many articles.  He managed one of the GOP offices in Miami for the 2016 elections.  He is the Bear Witness Central Director for the South Florida area.   Don’t miss the Orlando Conference this December 9th for more information click here.

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